The long-awaited opening date for Cardiff’s Doctor Who Experience has been announced, with fans able to get inside the city’s newest visitor attraction for the first time on July 20.
The date was revealed today during a special hand-over event at the new building in Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay, with Cardiff Council passing the keys to BBC Worldwide.
The first tickets for the attraction will go on sale on June 14.
The Doctor Who Experience, which has previously been on show at London’s Olympia Two, is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to Cardiff over the next five years, and could benefit the wider Cardiff economy to the tune of £68 million between now and 2017.
The first exhibits were also moved in today, including two original Doctor Who costumes – one from his current incarnation Matt Smith, the other from 1980s Doctor, Peter Davison – and the Van Gogh painting of the TARDIS which featured in the series 5 episode Vincent and the Doctor.
A TARDIS will welcome visitors arriving by boat or water bus on a newly built landing station next to the Experience building, while inside visitors will have the chance to “star in the very own Doctor Who adventure” as they walk through the interactive exhibition.
Visitors will take on the role of the Doctor’s companion, trying to reunite the Doctor with his TARDIS while fending off the Doctor’s most famous foes, including a Dalek spaceship and a maze of Weeping Angels.
There will also be a replica of the inside of the TARDIS, and the world’s most extensive collection of original Doctor Who costumes and memorabilia, stretching back almost 50 years.
New items which will be shown to the public for the first time in Cardiff include the Doctor’s cradel, seen in A Good Man Goes to War, the Silence spaceship, and Matt Smith’s sonic cane from Let’s Kill Hitler.
Other items will only be revealed on July 20.
Project manager Pat Thompson said today that Cardiff Council had paid £2.5 million constructing the blue building which will house the experience – cash which will be recouped through a share of the ticket sales.
Mr Thompson said the Experience, which is next to the BBC’s new Roath Lock Studios, would need to attract around 250,000 visitors every year for the next five (the length of the Experience’s lease) to cover that cost.
But Ken Poole, head of economic development for Cardiff Council, said this was a “major tourism attraction” which could be marketed nationally and internationally, attract people from around the world and benefit existing attractions in Cardiff.
BBC Worldwide’s head of exhibitions and events Paula Al-Lach said Cardiff was the “spiritual home” of Doctor Who.
She said: “We are particularly excited to be here in Cardiff. Cardiff is the spiritual home of Doctor Who. It’s particularly great to be located in this exact spot, next to the BBC Wales Drama Studios. I live for the day when we walk one of the monsters off those sets and down the road to the experience.”
She added: “We wanted a create a visitor attraction that not only celebrates the iconic history of Doctor Who, but puts the fans inside Doctor Who. When we did our research, everybody wants to go in the TARDIS.
“We will have a replica TARDIS so people can go inside it. We want it to be fun, we want it to be an adventure, and we have got a massive history to celebrate.”